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Anyone who has waited and waited at the Effingham Amtrak station for a train can believe this thornworthy report by the Chicago Tribune: “Amtrak’s Illini and Saluki trains, which provide transportation for thousands of college students, have among the worst on-time performance records in the nation, according to a federal watchdog organization. In the 12 months that ended September 2018, only 6% of northbound Illini trains, which run between Carbondale and Chicago, were on time, meaning they arrived within 15 minutes of their scheduled arrival time, according to a report released Thursday by the Office of Inspector General for Amtrak. For southbound Saluki trains running between Chicago and Carbondale, 17% arrived on time, and 18% were delayed by more than hour. The Illini and Saluki both run between Union Station in Chicago and Carbondale in Southern Illinois, home of Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. Stops include Urbana-Champaign, home of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Mattoon, which is near Eastern Illinois University in Charleston. Both trains are both primarily funded by the state, according to the inspector general’s office. Nationwide, the report found that 27% of Amtrak’s trains were late in the same time period. The report identified poor on-time performance as a key factor driving Amtrak’s operating loss of $171 million for the fiscal year.”

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Add roses to the thanks Effingham Police Chief Jason McFarland gave Fifth Third Bank employees and the teamwork of several agencies during the scary situation at the bank on Thursday regarding a suspicious package. “Employees immediately called police, which allowed our officers to locate the suspect within minutes of notification,” the chief said Friday. “Because of the serious, unique nature of the threat, additional resources were called in to assist in the investigation. Excellent teamwork was displayed by all the agencies working together for the common goal of mitigating the situation and eliminating any potential harm to citizens. We are confident this individual was acting alone, and do not believe there are any additional threats to the community associated with this incident.”

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Roses for the 16th Annual Effingham Marching Band 2019 Red Regiment Invitational, which will be hosting 29 bands from all over Central Illinois on Saturday at Effingham High School. Concessions and cookout stand will be open throughout the event. Macklins Kettle Corn, Toppins and The Music Shoppe Inc. will also be on hand.

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Roses to the six Effingham Unit 40 teachers who were surprised Wednesday with a Publisher’s Clearing House-style presentation announcing their grant awards from the Unit 40 Education Foundation. And it was a nifty way of surprising the teachers, too. Your EDN editor was tickled by the photo by EDN reporter Kaitlin Cordes of Effingham Junior High teacher Susan Young learning of her grant. Unit 40 Education Foundation President and school board member Robin Klosterman was accompanied by fellow foundation members to present certificates, flowers and balloons to teachers at Effingham High School, Effingham Junior High School, Central School and the Early Learning Center. Klosterman said the foundation was inspired to make the surprise announcements by another school district. “This is the first time that we’ve ever awarded the grants this way. Usually, Mr. (Todd) Schuette, who’s our school liaison on our foundation board, just makes a phone call the next morning and tells them that they’ve gotten a grant,” Klosterman said. “We saw another school district that had a prize patrol to award this, and we just thought that was a great way to bring attention to teachers who were going the extra mile to get resources for their kids to use things that they otherwise wouldn’t have in the classroom.” Others receiving grants for worthwhile projects: Junior High art teacher Kammy McKenna, Central School Title 1 teacher Amy Hewing, High School teacher Jim Hammer, Retired Unit 40 teacher and current volunteer Donna Walls, and Special Education teacher at the Early Learning Center Lisa Lauritzen.

Effingham Daily News Editor Jeff Long can be reached at jeff.long@effinghamdailynews.com or 217-347-7151 ext. 129.